It's easy to imagine that Ringo Starr's closet is full of shoe boxes containing old mementos, like the photographs that populate Another Day In The Life, his newest book. The reality is a bit different though.
"If I'm in them, I just lift them off the internet," he says. "Others are what I do on tour when I'm hanging out."
In addition to playing drums, Ringo likes taking photos and making art. He puts out these books — a mix of coffee table decor and memoir — for charity, and they all have a scrapbook feeling, with funny notes in the margins. Another Day In The Life holds over 500 photographs, a combination of images shot by Ringo and bits pulled from The Beatles' archives.
Ringo spoke to NPR's Rachel Martin about his new book, including returning to The Plaza Hotel 50 years after The Beatles' first visit, smoking cigars with George Harrison at the film premiere of A Hard Day's Night and the story behind the Abbey Road album cover. Hear their conversation at the audio link.
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
If you had the chance to spend some time looking at photos and hearing old stories from a member of The Beatles, would you be interested? Yeah, of course, you would be.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YELLOW SUBMARINE")
THE BEATLES: (Singing) In the town where I was born...
MARTIN: This is Rachel Martin. Who is this?
RINGO STARR: Rachel Martin - how lucky am I? This is Ringo Starr.
In addition to playing drums, Ringo likes taking photos and making art. He puts out these coffee table books for charity, and they feel a little bit like scrapbooks with funny notes in the margins.
Where did all these photos come from? I'm imagining a bunch of shoeboxes stuck away in Ringo Starr's closet.
STARR: If I'm in them, I just lift them off the Internet.
STARR: And others are what I do on tour when I'm hanging out.
(SOUNDBITE OF THE BEATLES SONG, "YELLOW SUBMARINE")
MARTIN: There's all sorts of weird stuff in here, like some recent snapshots out of one of the room windows in New York's Plaza Hotel. There are a couple of limos, a horse and carriage, but none of the hysterical crowds that met The Beatles when they stayed there on their first U.S. tour.
Tell me about the significance of these.
STARR: You know, I was there in the room, and memories come flooding back. And so I go over to the window, and I felt I was, like, in the same rooms that we were in in the '60s (laughter).
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALL MY LOVING")
THE BEATLES: (Singing) Close your eyes, and I'll kiss you. Tomorrow I'll miss you.
STARR: Then, of course, where I took, like, that square that's below the plaza, it was full of people.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The teenagers are going absolutely wild.
STARR: So this was a very incredible moment in my life. The bad side was that there was a lot of people. Everybody sort of wanted something, and we all ended up in one of the bathrooms. We had all these suites, and we ended up in a bathroom just to have a break from the pressure.
MARTIN: Just to shut everybody out.
STARR: Just to have a break.
MARTIN: And it's so interesting to now look at these photos. They just sort of look like shots like anyone would take, shots that a tourist would take or just someone passing by.
STARR: Well, at that moment, in 2014, I was a tourist. I was on tour (laughter).
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "A HARD DAY'S NIGHT")
THE BEATLES: (Singing) It's been a hard day's night.
MARTIN: OK, I want to ask about the picture on Page 42. This is you and George Harrison. You're at the premiere of the film "A Hard Day's Night." It's such a lovely photo. I mean, the two of you are in these tuxes. You're smoking cigars.
STARR: Yeah. Well, in those days, I mean, you know, we came out of working-class Liverpool, and within two years, we were smoking cigars and putting bow ties on. You know, it was like, what's going on? But we were having fun with it. That's what was great.
STARR: We were pretending to be those guys.
(SOUNDBITE OF THE BEATLES SONG, "OCTOPUS'S GARDEN")
MARTIN: There's another one that stood out, to me at least, of the Abbey Road Strawberry Field children's home in Liverpool.
MARTIN: And you write in the margins, who knew the "Abbey Road" cover photograph would become so iconic?
MARTIN: Can you just tell the story of that cover?
STARR: It happened several times. But with "Abbey Road," we sat around, and we always had big ideas. We'd sit around and say, we - you know, we've got to go up Everest to do the cover. No, we've got to go to Hawaii to the volcano. No, let's go to the pyramids in Egypt.
MARTIN: Those were real suggestions that were being thrown around.
STARR: Real suggestions. And then someone would say, oh, sod it. Let's just walk across the road. And that's what we did.
MARTIN: That's Ringo Starr talking about the photos in his new book, titled "Another Day In The Life." And what a life.
STARR: OK, bye. Peace and love.
(SOUNDBITE OF THE BEATLES SONG, "OCTOPUS'S GARDEN") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.